Valentines Day around the World
Ah, Valentine’s Day. February 14th.
What used to be a day reserved for romance has transformed into more inclusive celebration, enjoyed by single ladies and lads alike. Gone are the days of intense coupledom and excessive displays of affection, as Valentine’s Day in Ireland today provides a chance for friends to come together too.
How about Valentine’s Day in other countries?
Here at Cork English College, we asked our students how Valentine’s Day is celebrated in their country, and the different traditions they have. Below are their answers!
Many thanks to Connie, Ying-Han and Ru-Ying
On Valentine’s Day in Taiwan, those with a partner will go to a restaurant to celebrate. They exchange presents, both man and woman. They may watch a movie or go to see a romantic night view. If you are single and in love with someone, you tell them.
Taiwanese people are generally open-minded and easy-going, that’s why our culture always mixes traditions from everywhere. For example, in the past, boys always sent chocolates, cards or flowers to girls. But this tradition has been influenced by Japan, where girls always pull the trigger on February 14th and then this is returned on March 14th. To sum it all up, nowadays in Taiwan, boys and girls always send gifts to each other, even classmates or colleagues.
But if you want to show your admiration for someone, flowers are a good idea. The number of flowers is very important because of the pronunciation:
1 flower means you’re my only one.
9=long time=gyo (pronounce by Chinese)
99=long long time=gyo gyo
999=long long long time=gyo gyo gyo, and I guess you need a truck : )
101 is ‘the greatest love in life’.
108 is used to propose.
520 is ‘I love you’.
This is a play on the sounds of these words. The sound of the numbers 9 and 99 in Chinese is like ‘long time’ and the sound of 520 in Chinese is like ‘I love you’.
Thanks to Claudia, Gustavo, Marta and Teresa
Spanish couples celebrate the 14th February much like others around the world. On Valentine’s Day in Spain, your boyfriend invites you to have a romantic dinner. Normally you exchange special presents. People often surprise one another. Some do activities like going to the theatre or to concerts. People usually exchange presents like stuffed toys, bouquets of roses, bonbons etc. Men usually give red roses as a symbol of love. This is important to remember, or his partner will be angry!
In the end the most important thing is to enjoy the day with your partner. Many people prefer to just show love every day! “Un corazón es una rigueza que no se vende ni se compra, pero se regala”, as the Spanish idiom goes.
In Valencia, the most romantic day is 9th October as we celebrate the Patron Saint of Lovers: Sant Dionis. The holiday has many festivities and colourful costume parades. People generally believe that Valentines Day is a consumerist holiday: people even call it ‘Dia de El Corte Ingles’ which literally translates to ‘Day of the Court Ingles’, a famous department store!
Thanks to Umberto and Lorenzo
In Italy, the country of love (joking: that is France, but it doesn’t matter!) Although Italian people are passionate, we don’t have any customs. Usually men invite their girlfriends (or wives) to a restaurant for a romantic evening. Another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is to gift a beautiful bunch of flowers.
Usually people will have a romantic dinner in a good restaurant with their partner. This is how a typical Valentine’s Day begins. If you live near the sea you can take a walk on the beach, watch fireworks. If you live in Rome, you can kiss your partner by the Colosseum. But if you’re single, the best way to spend the day is with friends, drinking some beers and having pizzas. Not so bad, is it? 😉
Thanks to Johan, Marie, Salima and Boshra
‘La Saint Valentin’, as we say in French, is celebrated in France like most other places in the world. Typically, men give their girlfriends a present such as a bouquet of roses, a box of chocolates, jewellery, a romantic weekend break in a European city..or all of these things! Some people do less common things like skydiving or wine-tasting. Usually a man gives a woman a present. However, it is usually the men giving gifts to the women, and it is less common for women to give them to men.
Naturally, you have to book a table in a romantic restaurant which could be quite expensive and not very intimate as many of them are crowded. I think that Valentine’s Day is a more commercial celebration inherited from the Anglo-Saxon countries. A lot of people in France think Valentine’s Day is commercial.
The most important thing though is to be with your partner this day. It’s a special day to break the routine.
Thanks to Claudia, Ticiane and Marlon
In Brazil, Valentine’s Day has a different day and date! It is called ‘Dia dos Namorados’ and is celebrated on June 12th. It’s pretty much the same as in other cultures and countries. Some couples travel. Shops are full of hearts and other love-related things and people seem to be really in love, some receiving flowers. Couples can exchange presents, but normally it’s expected that the man will give the woman a bunch of flowers or chocolates and invite her to dinner. Restaurants and hotels are usually pretty full this day!
Thanks to Sunnev
In Norway, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day like the Americans! Some couples go out for dinner, or movies. I think it will become more popular and celebrated in a few years, just like Halloween.
Thanks to Larysa
Valentine’s Day is quite a new concept in Ukraine. We only started to celebrate it about 15 years ago and we have no specific traditions yet. The most typical gifts are heart-shaped cookies and cakes, jewellery for women, and a romantic dinner. The main point of the gifts, events, meetings etc. is to make this day even more romantic and to show love and attention to each other. We also send heart-shaped postcards to people we like (not just our partners!) like friends, siblings and relatives.